Article – Major Central Australian stock routes still a problem as mustering and trucking hits full swing

13 April 2015
Nathan Coates
ABC Rural
As mustering and trucking cattle hits full swing across the Northern Territory, some of the major stock routes in Central Australia remain a problem.

A road train transporting cattle on the Stuart Highway north of Alice Springs.PHOTO: A road train transporting cattle on the Stuart Highway north of Alice Springs. (Nathan Coates )

Mark Castagna from Tanami Transport, said the Tanami road and parts of the Plenty Highway were in a terrible state.
The Federal and NT Government announced $40 million late last year to seal around 150 kilometres of the Plenty Highway from the Stuart Highway to Harts Range.
Work is yet to commence.
Mr Castagna said some stock routes were almost unusable and that was not good, particularly at this time of year.
“We’re getting a lot of orders for cattle going every which way,” he said.
“If the roads stay rough, our maintenance bill goes up.
“We’ve got to take that on the chin, we can’t add more on to the cartage.
“So really, we’re out of pocket.”
Mr Castagna admits the poor road quality is affecting his business expansion plans and could see him having to use alternative routes.
“If it gets too rough, we just refuse to go there,” he said.
“We’ll pick an alternative route like further north around the bitumen, but that’ll be more cost to the pastoralist.
“A truck’s worth $450,000 and you don’t want to take it out there and wreck it, so we’re keeping to the old stuff [trucks].”
Deputy PM, Warren Truss, and NT Chief Minister, Adam Giles
Courtesy of ABC Rural